In a new study, researchers from the Bernstein Network and the Universities of Göttingen and Jena now show that a stroke even affects the learning ability of remote brain areas. Learning processes in the visual system of mice were impaired, in some cases even for weeks. The scientists conclude that plastic brain changes are modulated by networks far bigger than previously assumed. By administration of anti-inflammatory drugs, some of the networks were able to regain their learning ability.
In Germany alone, every year some 200,000 people suffer from strokes. It is still not understood why the affected subjects often find it so difficult to relearn everyday abilities. There are still debates about the best starting time for therapy and the best approach towards medication. Scientists have long observed that the localized blood flow disturbance can also affect distant brain areas. Now scientists led by Professor Siegrid Löwel and Professor Otto Witte have examined the effects of a local stroke on neuronal plasticity in the visual system of mice as part of the “Visual Learning” project of the Bernstein Focus: Neuronal Basis of Learning.
Closing one eye in healthy animals leads to an increase in the visual acuity of the remaining eye, and both hemispheres process information from the open eye more intensely. “We have shown that the brain loses this ability after a stroke,” says Franziska Greifzu, PhD student in the laboratory of Prof. Siegrid Löwel, a neurobiologist at the Bernstein Focus Neurotechnology and the University of Göttingen, and head of the study. For the investigation, a stroke was induced in an area of the cerebral cortex that has no known effect on the visual system. Closing one eye immediately after the stroke resulted in the mouse brain being unable to normally adapt to the new situation; it had lost its ability to learn. Two weeks after the brain damage, the ability to adapt was partly regenerated.
The researchers examined whether inflammation could be responsible for this compromised learning. Therefore, they treated the animals immediately after the stroke with an anti-inflammatory drug. The result was that the treated animals developed, as with healthy animals, an increased visual acuity of the open eye. “The impaired learning ability after a stroke could be rescued to normal levels by use of anti-inflammatory drugs”, explains Witte, a neurologist at the University Hospital of Jena.
How the damaged area of the brain affects the visual system is still unclear. “There are obviously a lot more interactions between brain areas than we know and usually test experimentally,” says Löwel. Now the scientists want to examine more closely what changes a stroke entails on the cellular level and how learning ability can be completely restored. The results were published in the renowned scientific journal PNAS.
The project “Visual Learning” of the Bernstein Focus: Neuronal Basis of Learning is part of the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience (NNCN) in Germany. The NNCN was established by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with the aim of structurally interconnecting and developing German capacities in the new scientific discipline of computational neuroscience. The network is named after the German physiologist Julius Bernstein (1835–1917).
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences